The Rocket Truck

October 20, 2006 Orion Propulsion President Tim Pickens, worked for several small aerospace start-ups before launching his own company. Along the way he was the lead propulsion developer for Burt Rutan on the X-PRIZE-winning SpaceShipOne at Scaled Composites, and he has worked on engine programs ranging from 100lbf to 50,000lbf thrust (a regeneratively-cooled rocket motor for NASA on the Fastrac Block II engine program). He also was a Project Engineer leading the design and construction of a prototype Space Shuttle Main Engine combustion chamber utilizing advanced aerospace materials and manufacturing processes. We could go on, but you get the picture. He knows his stuff, so it’s particularly interesting to see what Senior Propellant Specialist Pickens built when he decided to employ his expertise to build a 2750 lb thrust nitrous-oxide rocket-propelled truck. The engine is controlled by a hand-held gaming controller and dash-mounted LCD screens allow the pilot and co-pilot, (passenger) to watch the engine and add to the thrill of the ride. A video of the engine he is using firing up is available here. The truck will be on display this weekend at the X PRIZE Cup

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